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In the Year of our LORD Jesus Christ
2017
-- As of January 20, 2017
A Sigh Of Relief With The Inauguration Of Donald John Trump as President of the United States of America, And Hope For A Prosperous Future For All United States Citizens (we who are a nation called "the melting pot of the world"). We shall be great and exceptionally great again.


Peace and Liberty. Semper Fidelis.









Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fictional Short Story: Recollections of a Western Deputy (1871 -1897): Horse-shoes A Fallin'


July 5, 1879            Horse-shoes A Fallin'


    On July 4, we had another odd duck day.    At the Rodeo celebration, two men billed themselves as Trick Shooters, and decided to do the bullet into the horseshoe trick.  This involves 7 horse-shoes all of the same exact size and shape.  The first is blank with 6 nail holes, the second has a .44 slug in the first nail hole, the third horse-shoe has two slugs in two of the nail holes, and so on.  The one who throws the horse-shoe up in the air, always acts like a Circus clown, and always puts the horse-shoe in a small barrel before tossing it up in the air again to be shot.  Each of the slugged horse-shoes hand on an inner ring numbered by white paint on the barrel wall as to how many slugs is in the horse-shoe below it.  It gets tricky on really cloudy days, as once they did the trick for the first slug, and all 6 was placed in the horse-shoe they showed to the crowd in St. Louis or somewhere that someone told me once when I was 9 days out trailin’ a skunk who shot and near killed two of the Governor’s servants and barely missed the Governor at his house, putting two bullets through his coat tails.  That killer fell of a mountain tryin' to take a quick trail on the 10th day, and rock-slid down off the trail after it gave way some 40 paces and went over a cliff to the rocks below, and split in an upper and lower body at the belly, missin' about a foot in between all splattered on the rocks.  
That fella with me on that manhunt told me that when the crowd (in St. Louis or somewheres like that name) saw these trick shootin’ fellas was usin’ blanks and makin’ the crowd out to be fools, they skinned every lick of clothin’ off of those phoney sharp-shooters, and made them do a farewell down the middle of Mississippi River, chased by rowboats of angry folk shootin' up the water to keep them floatin' down to some down river town to be arrested later for indecency.  It appears that the naked sharp-shootin' phonies were taken up, and charged and then served 60 days hard labor afore getting’ out.  Yet, here they was, 3 years later, once again pullin’ the same act hundreds and hundreds of miles away, hopin’ no one was the wiser…only one of them was too dead drunk to go on. 


So, needin’ the money for the act, the one who threw the horse-shoes decided to go on anyways.   He quick learned a fella who was about only half as drunk as he was, and swaggered about half as much when they walked out to do the act.  The one who was to throw the horse-shoes high up in the air, 40 feet or more, stood about 30 feet away from the fella who he quick learned regardin’ the act.  The other  drunk was supposed to take a six gun and shoot the horse-shoe in one or more of its holes while high in the air at or near its zenith.  Unfortunately, he looked a little sleepy.    The shooter bein' drunk, watched the first horse-shoe  go up and watched it fall.  And when it was dead between him and his partner at about eye level, the dang fool shot his partner about 8 inches below the heart, just missin’ the kidney, intestines, and artery.  He forgot to replace the quick learn fellas lead bullets with blanks.   Once shot, the fella who threw the  horse-shoe bent over like he was punched in the gut, and walked away, and left the Rodeo, grabbin’ the local horse doctor to pull the bullet out in the privacy of a new Livery that was two buildings away from where they was when he grabbed the horse doctor.  I followed along to see what the problem was, and caught up to them as the horse-doc was layin’ his patient on the ground and sayin’:
“Leroy, even if you had twice your brains, you’d still only graduate from bein’ a dimwit to to bein’ a half-wit!  And if you had even 4 times the smarts, you’d be so full of gas , that if someone like me came along and poked you with just one finger in the belly, my guess is that you’d give a new definition to blowin’ your brains out!” 
Leroy replied,
“Ain’t nuthin’ you could ever prove, you old horse-quack!”


And with that, the horse-doctor pressed one finger hard into the center of the patient Leroy’s stomach, and Leroy passed gas so badly that even I had to leave and open both barn doors to the Livery to spare the animals in thar’ the misery.  I was lookin’ quick for a pipe or cigar smoker to help undo the stench that went up my nostrils, and instead had to stick my face in a water trough and blow out one nostril at a time with a forceful exhale on each one.  And while I was off doin’ that, the horse doctor got the bullet out, but he operated on the ground next to a mule (about an arm's length to the patient’s right and about so to the horse-doctor’s left). 


I returned just in time to see the patient sit up and cry out like a jackass in pain, which type of scream startled the mule, which then kicked the horse-shoe thrower in the right side of the head so that he died.  And what was worse, is that the mule’s shoe was loose, so that it stuck in the side of the man’s head in a perfect indentation over and around his right ear.   There was exactly $1.09 in Leroy’s pocket, and a pair of spiffy new lookin’ boots on Leroy’s feet which the horse-doctor took as his rightful fee.  The town’s newly arrived mortician got a hold of the body, set up a tent peak show as the folks left the Rodeo, and charged 5 cents a look, and 10 cents more to touch.  He made some $73.90, gave the man’s partner $5 (when he finally regained consciousness that evenin’ or last night) and buried the horse-shoe thrower free of charge, usin’ an old paint stained tarp he was goin’ to burn as trash anyhow, but at least made the hole 8 feet deep, as he threw another body on top of that, of some unknown fella who died getting’ bucked off in the Bronco bustin’ event, and landin’ in his head.  When his neck snapped, it jiggled like limp noodles on a fork that the Latin folk out of Italy eat.     Yessir, the mortician not got a two for one on that grave, but he then buried the widow Morning Star’s -- who we call Widow Morganstern’s – cat at about 4 feet down, and placed a 140 lb natural rock that was headstone chiseled to the cat in exchange for $2, two free coat sleeve and inseam sewings,  and 5 chickens.  So if you folks ever get to the Common Graves in an otherwise overgrown and abandoned acre in the southwest part of town, and you find the stone dedicated to a cat, just that two fellas are buried under you know what. 

Most folks still hold to buryin’ their kin on their own land, which is their right to do.  Folks round here, and I suspect most anywhere (except perhaps those who live in the big cities and whatnot) only require that such buryin’ always be far enough away from a common underground water source so as not to contaminate it for the rest of us that is livin’.  It’s called common sense; and in my experience, most city folks don’t seem to possess anywhere near enough of it. 

After conferrin’ with Marshall Jackson and Sheriff Bond, I went home and checked on the wife, who is 6 months along.  I found her layin’ down on our bed, sweatin’ up a storm.  I changed her clothes, and the sheets, and gave her well water cool downs on her face, neck, and arms. I made sure the children were well, clean and fed and not thirsty, and the like.   I tried to talk to her mother, who was lookin’ after the children, but after I got home, seemed to be doin’ little more than slammin’ this or that door shut every few minutes.  Her mother was stormin’ back and forth through and in and out of the house.  If she was doin’ anything after I got home aside from door slammin’, I was in uncharted waters to apprehend what it was.   

After my mother-in-law’s  husband died, I bought her a property less than a 5 minute walk away to the West of my 11 acre place. From the front gate of my house, a normal person can run there to my mother-in-law’s place  in less than a minute.  She was upset…hell, she was always upset about somethin’.  That old battle axe was still mad at me not just for marryin’ her daughter, but also because I didn’t buy the new house bein’ built on the property to the west of mine, where the town just finished gradin’ the last of its in town streets.  After the house to the west of my property, the town graded a north-south street, and then there is that house on the opposite corner and hers to the west of that on the next corner of that same  block (they call “town land” inside the same three or more sided section of roads “a block” now).  While she has a now graded level dirt street to walk up and down on, she’s upset she has to walk so far.  Who wants to live right next to a mother-in-law hoverin’ over anything and everything you visibly do?  She practically lives here all day anyway.  I have a nappin’ room that I want to eventually turn into a bedroom for my oldest child, Winchester, and two of his little brothers (the twins) in another year or so, but for now, she uses it to lay down in some several times durin’ the day, as she is hoverin’ about the wife and children 6 days a week from 7 am to near 4 in the afternoon.


Sometimes she can’t sleep, and I find her at 4 in the mornin’ in the kitchen. 
What I don’t like, is she helps herself to my supplies and sometimes takes baskets of food and even some of the smaller livestock.  Last week it was 2 chickens and 10 pounds of flour and half a pound of salt.  This week, she had her son take and butcher one of my goats.  He promises to make me a fine waterskin bag out of the hide after havin’ it a couple of months or more.   He was hopin’ to make it a weddin’ present with the 3 other goats he took over the last couple months previous…goats I though ate through their ropes and ran away. 


 Sometimes in the last few weeks…correct that, since about the beginnin’ of May, if I come home durin’ the day when the old battle axe of a mother-in-law is at my and the wife’s home, I have to sneak up to one of the windows.  And if my mother-in-law is in a real bad temperament…like how my wife gets for 2 or 3 days in a month when she has one of her moon rages, usually only when she’s not carryin’, but sometimes will also get just as upset when she’s carryin’…I’ll only sneak up to the window of the room I see the wife at when her mother isn’t with her, but only after mufflin’ the horse hoofs with cloth I tie to the hoofs.  On those occasions, I usually only get to whisper with the wife a few private words quickly, afore kissin’ her and sneakin’ off.

Otherwise, I will generally just wait for the mother-in-law to leave, and usually the coast is clear like clock-work about 4 in the afternoon, usually by 5 minutes after 4 on most days. 

   Once, that old battle axe caught me and the wife while I was on my horse whisperin’ to the wife at one of the windows, and that snappin’ crab pulled the wife back and broke that rollin’ pin she brought with her out of the kitchen (for some reason or other), she quick as lightnin’ broke the rollin’ pin of on my head, and one of the pieces that broke off and killed my one and only turkey that I was fattenin’ up out thar’ in the yard.  Of course, she took up and kept the turkey and took it home with her. That fat bird was near 26 pounds as best I can figure, and was near prime for eatin’.   The next day, I saw it curin’ out on a hook off her front porch, and two of the in-laws sittin’ outside eyein’ me and smilin’ and wavin’ even as they was guardin’ it.  She was takin’ no chances, as she knew I would take it back if no one was lookin’.   That’s her idea of gratitude.  It’s no wonder the Dutch side of the wife’s family asked the Danish side to move out.  They was all nice, really nice and honest and good folk on both sides…with one exception…you know who. And from what I hear, she used to also be really really nice,  years ago.   


For them that wouldn't know any better, my mother-in-law is a very lovely to look at woman in her own right, but she has this foul temperament to those who ain’t of her own kind.  When a woman gets that way, she can be like a beautiful apple on the outside, at first pleasin’ to the eye, but if you bite into it and it is sour or rancid in some way, even if you just look at the unbit side, that displeasin’ knowledge, for you, makes it an eyesore that turns your stomach.  I think that describes how I felt about her more times than I care to admit, and how she must have generally felt about me. 

Between the wife and my father-in-law afore he died, I know some of the history that led to that twice fallen Valkyrie to bein’ how she was.  In or about 1851, she married a merchant (my now late father-in-law) who hailed out of Holland, who had originally intended to live and settle in Denmark, and this made her and her family very happy.  While in Denmark, the wife was born.  

       After 10 years of great success in Denmark, for whatever reason, my late father-in-law decided to move to Holland, even though he grew very wealthy and remarkably successful.  Most of the wife's memories are of how beautiful and wonderful Limburg (a province there) was, and still is.  Apparently, that province dates back its settlement by the Celts to the Roman times, even to the years spoken of in the New Testament and a generation or two afore that (the wife's family says).  Her grandparents worked and lived out of the perimeter of second largest city in in Holland, a place called Maastricht.  When she reminisces of it, I can see in her face how happy and joyous and innocent her childhood was.  That soothes and pleases me.

Many of my late father-in-law's own  in-laws who also were livin’ off what he made and supplied them, followed him to Holland (and made him pay for the passages and fares as well); and for almost another 10 years my late father-in-law then made  his wealth by tradin' and sellin' with the English, the Germans, the French, and finally some American  buyers who happened to be visitin’ Holland at the time.  The wife learned to be fluent in all Danish and Dutch, and German and French, but until we was married, never quite picked up and understood the English language.  Afore he died, her father had me pay to have the wife tutored by two different women teachers who properly educated the wife, as he always said that I did to the English like a sloppy butcher does to a cow, and makes a mess of it all.  
     
      Over the course of 6 or 7 months, the American buyers in Holland who dealt with my late father-in-law in his last year there, well they held him spellbound with history and tales of what it was like in America.  After nearly half a year or more of bein' carried away in his mind with what he was told over long hours of  intoxicatin' drinkin' with intoxicatin' speakin'...afore he knew it, he set up his father and mother in a fine small house on a nice property with plenty of monies for the next 10 or 15 years of livin’, and struck out for the United States not long before war broke out between the Germans and the French over the Lorraine and Alsace regions on their border areas, or somethin’ to that effect.  My father-in-law could have just as easily returned to Denmark and lived quite happily and comfortably, but my mother-in-law grew angry and bitter, and never forgave him for not takin’ her to a beautiful country she so rightly loved. Instead, he sparked out to a new and alien land, filled with filthy people who themselves were filled with filthy manners who couldn’t generally speak a word of the civilized languages that she was fluent in, but that was mostly in certain cities he kept to from New York City to Chicago, until he came out West, and then it really got dirty, where they hitched to a wagon train and settled in a field by a stream away from the west of the wagons who formed a town…this town. 

I don’t rightly blame my mother-in-law for lovin' her heritage, though we have idiots and snobs and ignoramuses who claim heritage is prejudice, just so long as it is everybody else's heritage that is wrong to be proud of and not theirs.  I sometimes try to imagine what life might have been like if I wasn't so blessed with my Mrs.  Then, after a while, I scare myself, and put it out of my mind.  I think if  other men who also are husbands would learn to do that more often, they wouldn't be ruinin' their own marriages or themselves with prostitute diseases, and set about to drinkin' too much to get over their misery.  

Let me give you one example on how I scared myself thinkin' on this recently, just after my mother-in-law filled the top shelf of a closet full of horse-shoes, so that when I opened the closet door, 46 horse-shoes suddenly and without warnin' fell on my head and planted my backside to the floor.  As my head was spinnin' and as stars were a poppin' and a flashin' before my eyes, for 45 minutes or so, until a couple of my infant children found me and tried to work my face with their fingers like they was grabbin' at clay, I sat thar' and thought over what it would have been like had I been a Confederate Sailor instead of havin' served in the Confederate Army durin' the war, and life after I mustered out.  

  Even if I were a sailor, and went to Texas or Chihuahua or somewheres where I could have married one of them fine polite missies out of Mexico, I can only imagine the senora’s mother likewise bein' a battle axe herself as well, be her roots in Mexico or in Spain.  If that were the case, I can't imagine a mother-in-law who wouldn't also be lookin’ down at those not meetin’ her notion of what a husband should be for her daughter or whatnot, especially since I was reared Protestant and most of them beautiful senoritas are Catholic.  I would have to learn Latin, because that is all they speak at Mass; and probably, I would find myself ear drug out of bed so often on early Sunday mornin's...well, I can just imagine havin' this one big long and wide floppy ear droopin' like a hound dog, and me cryin' out in pain every Sunday mornin' as I get cussed out in Spanish and in Latin.  Just think of it...I'd have to go to sleepin' on the other side of the bed just so that kind of a wife could pull my other ear down like a dog just so the ears would match.  And how do you'd think I'd keep thhose long droopy ears tucked up under my hat?  And I can see myself just takin' off my hat in a big wind, my then 8 inch long floppy hound dog ears a stretched out like sails in the wind, floppin' and a flappin' away.  No sirree...none of the pretty little senorita's for me.  I'll take the wife kick and punchin' me out of bed durin' one of her nightmares or chasin' me down with a broom or brekin' somethin' over my head if I've done somethin' wrong.  I'd rather do that than be hearin' "Look!  Here comes Deputy Floppy Ears.  Here boy, go chase this stick!".  
And it was right about at that point that saliva wet sticky fingers gripped my face, and I yelled "Ahhhh!", scared the kids off cryin', as the wife came in and broke her favorite broom on me as she beat me out of the house.  Then, she demanded I buy her a new broom afore comin' back in, and all my money was on the dresser.  When I told my Cousin Beth, she gave me a new broom.  Then when I was leavin' her place, she called out my name, and hit me so hard in the face with a 2 pound sack of flour, that she put my head where my feet was.  When I came home, the wife only said,
"Don't bother to tell me."

and brushed my clothes off with her new broom, and then wiped my face with her apron.  I then followed her in with my head hangin' low, as a couple of the children cheered and celebrated that "Mother beat up Father again!"    

       From what I hear, Denmark has been able to keep the same flag for somethin’ like 7 centuries.   To me, that speaks of the kind of stability and idea of peace and serenity I think she’s constantly lookin’ for and can’t find here.  I’ve killed more men than I can count in times of war and in service as Deputy Marshal.  Let me correct that, I’ve killed more men than I would ever WANT to count, and it is all I can do to ever put it out of my mind, and focus on the good things and beautiful things in life, to ever keep the good in mind, because these things, includin’ innocence, overcome evil just by bein’ good and pure.   Or as the bible says, If the salt loses its saltiness strength in bein’ salty, and becomes without taste or effect, it is no longer of any use, and will be cast down and aside, and trodden underfoot as worthless, as good for nothin’.   If our children ever learn to lose their innocence and purity and in bein’ good, they will lose their strength as a people, and be taken up and cast down as worthless and good for nothin’ by those who destroy and take away their innocence.  And if that ever happens, it would be like the end of the world.  May that day never come. 


-         Deputy B.  





















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